Global markets were mixed Wednesday amid some optimism about U.S.-China trade talks and ahead of an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
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The Fed isn't considered ready to announce its first rate cut in more than a decade, but many expect the central bank to signal an inclination to ease credit sometime within the next several months.
Its meeting comes a day after the head of the European Central Bank said it was ready to cut interest rates and provide additional economic stimulus if necessary.
France's CAC 40 was stable at 5,513, while Germany's DAX was flat at 12,331. Britain's FTSE 100 fell about 0.3% to 7,423, after a report showed that inflation in Britain dipped in May, likely easing the pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates this summer.
U.S. shares were set for a mixed open with Dow futures up less than 0.1% at 26,509. S&P 500 futures ticked down less than 0.1% to 2,925.
Two weeks ago, Fed Chair Jerome Powell set off a rally on Wall Street after he signaled that the central bank is willing to cut interest rates to help stabilize the economy if the trade war between Washington and Beijing starts to crimp growth. Any continued escalations could put the brakes on what is poised to be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.
Investors collectively envision a Fed rate cut by July and possibly further cuts after that. Some even expect a rate cut this week. Many economists, though, think the Fed will wait until September at the earliest to announce its first drop in its benchmark short-term interest rate since 2008 and might not cut again in 2019.
"I think the Fed is going to send the markets a clear signal that they are ready to lower rates in the very near future," said Brian Bethune, an economics lecturer at Tufts University.
Earlier, Asian markets rose after U.S. President Donald Trump said he will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an international summit in Japan. U.S. businesses have implored Trump to stop escalating the trade war and refrain from expanding his tariffs to $300 billion on goods from China.
Analysts acknowledged an immediate resolution to the trade conflict isn't expected, but the confirmation that Trump and Xi plan to talk at the G-20 in Osaka was cause for some optimism while warning that risks remain.
"While this certainly is a near-term boost for markets, the question as to what can be resolved by the two leaders' meeting that had not been done so despite months of discussions keeps this as a risk factor," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.7% to finish at 21,333.87. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.2% to 6,648.10. South Korea's Kospi was also up 1.2% at 2,124.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2.6% to 28,202.14, while the Shanghai Composite added nearly 1.0% to 2,917.80.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil edged down 1 cent to $53.89 a barrel. It rose 3.8% to $53.90 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 42 cents to $61.72 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar inched down to 108.39 yen from 108.48 yen on Tuesday. The euro rose slightly to $1.1207 from $1.1191.
Ott reported from Madrid.